On Saturday, the 1st of July 2023, with the Blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Basilios, the Youth at Saint Nicholas visited the Panagia Gorgoepikoos Monastery. The Holy Monastery of Panagia Gorgoepikoos is a monastic community of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The Monastery is situated in Lovely Banks, Geelong in Victoria and serves the Orthodox community Australia-wide.

The youth in attendance began the visit by exploring the grounds of the Monastery and bookshop on arrival as well as by delivering donations to aid in the maintenance of the Monastery. The program for the day saw the Youth then share a lunch together before moving on to a lesson about the Paraklesis service.

The Youth learnt that in the Paraklesis service, a supplicatory service to the Theotokos to help us and pray for us to Her Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Youth were then split into small groups to discuss the various Odes contained in the prayers and tasked with presenting reflections on the themes of each Ode. Additional to the themes discussed, a key takeaway from the discussion was the importance of concentrating and searching for the meaning of every prayer.

The discussion was followed by a Q&A with Yerondessa, Mother Kallistini, who spoke about the challenges of modern-day Orthodoxy as well as sharing her spiritual journey. Mother Kallistini spoke about having a “thirst for God” which gradually grew by being increasingly exposed to God as her life progressed. She also emphasised the importance of being an active Christian as well as the necessity of Christian relationships being based on the end goal of achieving Salvation. She encouraged the youth to get away from western way of thinking and to labour for their salvation by being an active part of the community.

The discussion was followed by the youth attending the Paraklesis service at the Monastery.

Having completed the visit, the Youth were edified by the experience and felt encouraged by each attendee progressing on their spiritual journey. The Youth is excited to run future events to develop further the group’s relationship with Christ and each other. The Youth would like to sincerely thank the Monastery for its hospitality in welcoming and having us for the day, as well as all of the speakers.

Most Holy Theotokos save us!